Stop Seasonal Depression In Its Tracks with Vitamin D3 and B12
Have you ever wondered why so many people prefer summer over winter? Of course, the warmth, nostalgia of summers away from school, and outdoor events all give this season an "edge" over the colder months. But these sunny months also change our brains and make us happier! Seasonal Affective Disorder or, appropriately "SAD", is a period of seasonal depression often linked to vitamin D deficiency, a vitamin that is synthesized from sun exposure. This winter, don't rely on a tropical getaway to top up your vitamin D levels! Instead, stop seasonal depression in its tracks with vitamin D3 and B12 supplements.
What are the symptoms of SAD?
Seasonal depression is exactly what it sounds like; it is a type of depression that occurs seasonally during the winter months. Maybe people attribute this sadness as a type of winter blues due to being cooped up indoors with fewer warm get-togethers or relaxing days at the beach or park. While the lack of social interaction and happenings definitely contributes to seasonal depression, the cause is oftentimes biological. Seasonal depression, or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is caused by three main factors:
Interruptions to your circadian rhythm: The reduced sun exposure in fall and winter may cause winter-onset SAD by interrupting your body's internal clock, or circadian rhythm.
A drop in serotonin levels: Decreases in serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood, may play a role in SAD.
Decreased melatonin levels: Melatonin is a hormone that controls the sleep-wake cycle. Seasonal changes and decreases in sunlight can disrupt melatonin production, thus influencing sleep patterns and mood.
How is SAD different from Major Depressive Disorder?
Seasonal affective disorder is a form of depression that is related to changes in seasons; it begins and ends around the same time every year. It is characterized by a period of time in which the symptoms of depression appear on a regular, recurring basis. In the Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), SAD is identified as a type of depression, namely Major Depressive Disorder with Seasonal Pattern. Because of this, many of the symptoms of SAD overlap with the symptoms of depression. The symptoms of SAD include:
Depressed feelings nearly every day
Loss of interest in hobbies
Difficulty falling asleep
Changes in appetite
Unexplained weight gain or loss
Irritability and fatigue
Seasonal depression is more than just the winter blues and it should be taken seriously. Even though it may seem like seasonal depression will fade away with enough sunshine and warm weather, the effects can last all year long and may even worsen if it's not handled properly.
What are the benefits of taking vitamin D3 for Seasonal Depression?
As with many mental health issues, there are a number of factors that can trigger or worsen one’s symptoms. In regards to seasonal depression or SAD, not getting enough vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, may be a major contributor. A 2018 meta-analysis found a correlation between low levels of vitamin D and depression. Similarly, people with Alzheimer's are often vitamin D deficient. Vitamin D is synthesized when our skin is exposed to sunlight. Unfortunately, since many people in the Northern hemisphere have limited sun exposure, it's easier to become vitamin D deficient. In fact, it's estimated that about 1 billion people globally are vitamin D deficient.
Unfortunately, eating a well-balanced healthy diet likely won't provide optimal levels of vitamin D for you. Dietary sources of vitamin D are slim but include fatty fish like salmon, fish liver oils, egg yolks, and milk and cereals that have been enriched with vitamin D. Alternatively since vitamin D can be created from light exposure, light therapy may be an effective treatment. This entails sitting in front of a bright light box for 20-60 minutes to emulate sun exposure while indoors. Light therapy is “thought to affect brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep, easing SAD symptoms,” according to the Mayo Clinic. However, some of the side effects of light therapy may include headache, dizziness, or nausea. This treatment is also more time-intensive than other options such as vitamin D supplementation. Vitamin D supplements come in easy-to-swallow pill forms and make it easy to achieve the recommended daily allowance with your morning breakfast. The RDA of vitamin D is:
Age 0-12 months: 10 mcg
Age 14-70 years: 15 mcg
Ages 70 and up: 20 mcg
However, some studies suggest that a higher daily intake of 1,000–4,000 IU (25–100 micrograms) is needed to maintain optimal blood levels. It’s always a good idea to talk with your health care provider about adding a new supplement to your diet, especially if you take medicine. You can read our blog bout the benefits of taking Vitamin K2 and D3 together.
Boost Your Mood with Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 may also provide some reprieve for those who are deficient in this vitamin and experiencing seasonal depression. Vitamin B12 is needed to synthesize serotonin, a mood-regulating neurotransmitter. Deficiency in this important vitamin may therefore lead to depression or feelings of sadness and fatigue. However, studieshave suggested that if you are deficient in this vitamin (between 3% and 43% of older adults are) you may benefit from supplementation along with antidepressant medications. Other studies have supported the correlation between vitamin B12 deficiency and depression and found those who are vitamin B12 deficient have twice the risk of severe depression.
Dietary sources of vitamin B12 include:Beef, liver, and chickenFish such as trout, salmon, tuna, and clamsFortified breakfast cerealLow-fat milk, yogurt, and cheeseEggsVitamin B12 supplements are another quick and reliable way to fill in this nutritional gap. 1 Body's Vitamin B Complex supplement contains vitamin B12 as well as vitamin B6, B1, B2, B5, Niacin, Folate, and Biotin to support energy levels and overall health.
Other Supplements to Consider
Other supplements may help to manage the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder and support general health and wellness. Other supplements worth considering include:Omega-3 Fatty Acids: According to a study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, those with a higher amount of omega-3's in their system were less likely to report feelings or symptoms associated with depression. St. John's Wort: Preliminary studies have identified St. John's Wort, a natural supplement created from a flowering plant, as a potential mood and sleep booster. However, this supplement may interact with other medications so be sure to consult a doctor before adding it to your diet. Folic acid: Folic acid plays an integral function in the brain by helping to produce S-adenosylmethionine (also known as SAM-e), a compound that produces "happy hormones" such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. More clinical trials are needed to truly measure its efficacy in treating and improving the symptoms of SAD.
Seasonal affective disorder is a serious mental health condition and should not be ignored. If you are struggling with depression or another mood disorder, please consult a medical professional. In addition to testing your blood levels of vitamins D and B12, they may also suggest a more robust treatment plan that involves antidepressants, cognitive behavioral therapy, or more. Instead of waiting for the winter blues to catch up to you, be sure to eat a healthy diet, take mood-boosting supplements, exercise, and stay on top of your emotional and mental well-being.
VITAMIN K2 + D3
STRONG BONES. Vitamin D3 & K2 work together to strengthen bones – D3 increases the absorption of calcium and K2 directs more of that calcium to bones rather than joints and arteries.
HEALTHY HEART. D3 & K2 vitamins are both essential nutrients for a healthy heart and cardiovascular system, and help promote healthy cholesterol levels.
DEFENSE SYSTEM SUPPORT. Science shows that vitamin D supplements are proven to strengthen your body’s natural defense system, which comes in handy during the winter season.
MOOD BOOSTER. The D3 vitamin is a great option for people who don’t get enough sunlight to maintain adequate levels of vitamin D, which plays a critical role in our mood and vitality.
POWERFUL SYNERGISTIC FORMULA. The combination of vitamin K2 (as MK-7, the most bioavailable form) and vitamin D3 work synergistically to provide greater health benefits together than when each vitamin is taken on its own.
VEGAN FRIENDLY.Manufactured in the USA at a cGMP compliant facility using easy to swallow capsules. Formula does not contain wheat, gluten, soy, milk, egg, fish, or tree nuts.